Yesterday, late in the court proceedings set in play by Auditor General John Doyle’s attempt to get at secret BC Rail legal documents, government lawyer Richard Butler filed an affidavit admitting he had filed a false affidavit declaring the government did not possess key documents related to the defence’s legal billings.
Butler was the dogsbody on this file, living and breathing it for years. He now claims he forgot that he had the billings in his hand. Either he’s not telling the truth or the government should come up with a new policy for crown lawyers with advanced alzheimer’s.
Who cares, right? The government has lied its way through this whole eight year long scandal. What’s another one?
Well I care. You care. We all care. Anyone who wants to get to the bottom of one of the crookedest deals in BC history cares. And another lie is another brick in the cover-up wall. So Butler’s “false” affidavit matters.
But let’s be clear: the documents under the spotlight – the defence’s itemized billings, paid for by the public against government policy – aren’t the big prize.
The big prize is the indemnity agreement itself.
And why? Because the indemnity agreement is how the government achieved the cover-up. As government official after government official took the stand in the fall of 2010 it became clear that the defence wasn’t going to let them off the hook. And to stop the political damage someone was going to have to stop the trial.
Two obstacles stood in the way: the prosecution’s sentencing demands and the government’s indemnification policy.
The sentencing demands were easy. They got changed: jail time turned into house arrest. But restoring an indemnification that dissolved the moment a guilty plea was entered proved much more tricky. It required an offer that was made on paper that had to be agreed to and signed by government representatives and the accused.
It meant a paper trail. Which is what John Doyle and John van Dongen are going after.
Like AGT I have an idea what’s in that offer. I’d say it goes something like this: if the defendants do x, y & z then they get relieved of their debts to the crown. In other words in return for ending the trial they get $6 million.
Also like AGT and as I have written previously, I believe what was offered was an illegal inducement to plead guilty. There is no other logical way the deal could have happened.
I also believe once it’s exposed to the open air, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down. It won’t be pretty.
P.S. I grew up on seventies movies… like All the President’s Men. It’s a great story broken by two great journalists, just starting out and with the fire in the belly to keep at it despite a lot of ridicule. In the end they felled arguably the most powerful man on earth and delivered a lot of his colleagues to jail.
I kind of see the BC Rail scandal as BC’s version of Watergate. So, where are the journalists? Yesterday’s lying affidavit was covered by one paper and one radio station.
Oh wait, Kate Middleton is preggers. Cue the wire feeds.